All ministries have limited resources. We are called to be good stewards of that which God has entrusted to us. The women that Love Life and most sidewalk outreach teams encounter often have multiple and significant needs. It can be overwhelming to assess how any ministry can begin to address these needs and remain solvent financially.
Some ministries do have case managers who are similar to social workers. Those case managers review the finances, budget, obstacles and needs with which the women present. They sometimes require that any help they provide is contingent on the client’s cooperation doing certain things.
In a Gospel-centered ministry like ours, we must be very careful that any help we offer is not based on a spiritual commitment. We clearly want every person to whom we minister to come to a saving knowledge of the Lord and to demonstrate a life transformed by that profession of faith; however, we do not require that to help them. I believe it is important to state that up front when talking about resources we can provide.
Our guiding philosophy is based on the parable of the Good Samaritan. Picture that story if the Samaritan pulled the wounded man out of the ditch and said, “Before I load you on my donkey, I want to have you sign this form indicating you will reciprocate in this relationship by agreeing to certain conditions. “As the wounded man signs a blood-spattered “X” on the dotted line, the Samaritan continues: “We will be traveling to an inn where we will contract with the innkeeper to provide lodging for the next week. In order to continue to help you, you will need to first send us all your financial information including savings, income and expenditures. We need to know that you will be able to find and afford safe housing on your own if we are willing to tide you over for a week in the inn.”
If he had, it would be a very different message. That parable teaches us we are to help our neighbor in need. Period.
If we help without certain parameters or conditions, though, are we enabling them to live a life dependent on us, and not on themselves and, ultimately, not on the Lord? Are we fostering co-dependency and even lack of self-responsibility? Are we enabling sin?
Biblical Guidance on Stewardship of Resources
Principle One: Glorify God in the giving and receiving of gifts and help to others.
“As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4:10-11).
This passage says we are to use our gifts and resources to help each other. We are to do it with what God has provided with the aim of glorifying God. Both the minister and the recipient should recognize that the gift is from God, with the purpose that He would be glorified.
How might this look practically on the sidewalk as we minister to the women? We should clearly communicate that what we offer is not from us but from God, as He has moved the Church to respond to those in need.
We do that in Love Life through the mentorship program. The mentor is the one responsible for connecting specific help to the mom. The mentor has the commitment and backing of a church. It is through the generosity and involvement of the church, spurred to good works by God, that resources are provided.
Principle Two: The recipient will recognize the gift is from God and will praise God
“Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God” (2 Corinthians 9:10-11).
In this passage, those who are enriched by the generosity of those who love God will be provoked to offer thanksgiving through us to God. The ultimate desire of our kindness to others is that it will lead them to the Lord!
If our gifts and help is leading them to further ungodly choices and increased sin or covetousness, we are not using our resources for the purpose God desires. I am NOT saying we should withhold critical resources if the women do not fall down on their knees and praise God. I do believe, however, that should be the intent of the ministry and the eventual result of long-term involvement with the person. If there is no gratitude and no movement to God, I think it is worth considering if we are using our resources the way God intends.
Principle 3: Direct Resources Where they will be most appreciated and do the most good
“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces” (Matthew 7:6).
I believe this passage is a stark warning to be careful who you help. There are those that will only suck everything out of a ministry, and then literally seek to destroy those who are helping them! We must be wise to discern if we are casting our pearls before swine.
How do we test and discern if our resources are not only being wasted but perhaps even endangering the ministry? We need some evidence that the help is producing a heart that is softening to God, that is grateful for the provision, and is not greedy for more to the point that we are feeling trampled.
The earlier point about a case manager who discerns real needs vs. wants could be valuable in helping with this. If one cannot have a discerning case manager, the assessment can come from volunteers. For example, here in Charlotte, we have a volunteer trained in financial counseling. Before we give large amounts of help such as paying rent, etc., we do ask when possible that the mom meet with our financial counselor. The counselor has the mother complete some basic forms regarding income and expenses and then guides us in whether the mother will be able to continue paying on her own. We must be careful not be be kicking the can down the road when she will need more help for the foreseeable future. In a case like that, the most loving thing we can do is talk about a realistic budget and help her to obtain housing and other necessities.
Principle 4: Give no resource that enables sin
For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed (2 Thessalonians 3:10-14).
For each will have to bear his own load (Galatians 6:5).
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them (Ephesians 5:11).
A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich (Proverbs 10:4).
But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever (1 Timothy 5:8).
Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them (Romans 1:32).
These passages depict important Biblical truth: we should work to provide for ourselves and our family, sin should be exposed, laziness should not be enabled, family members should provide for their family, if we know of sin and enable it, we are showing tacit approval of sin.
If a woman wants money to continue to live with a boyfriend, that would be the wrong use of our resources. If she wants money to determine paternity which will determine whether the baby is aborted or not, that is a wrong use of our resources. If she wants a baby shower although she has a houseful of baby supplies and is eager to sell the new supplies, that is a wrong use of resources. If she wants resources to fuel an addiction, that is a wrong use of resources. If she wants money for rent and is not working and the boyfriend who lives with her is not working, that would be enabling a lazy lifestyle and a bad use of resources. Always assess how the resources we give will be used. Never give when the resources enable sin.
Principle 5: When able, give generously
“Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8).
While this passage is talking about freely giving of spiritual gifts to help others, I believe the principle is the same with tangible gifts of help. We have been given EVERYTHING by God. We should open our hands wide to share with others, especially those in need.
In our ministry, we PROMISE a baby shower to the moms who choose life. If a sidewalk counselor promises anything, they must fulfill that promise. Whether the mom is grateful or not, follows through on other things or not, we need to be people of our word.
Therefore, we should be very careful what we promise. In Love Life, the sidewalk outreach teams have a general knowledge of the resources available. However, we are not the ones responsible for connecting the mom with the resources. That is the Mentor’s job. The mentor would therefore be the one in charge of assessing needs vs. wants and whether to call in a financial counselor or others to help wisely determine how extensive help should be.
To Assess Needs vs. Wants
As we have said in many podcasts, asking questions is one of our greatest techniques to help us assess the situation. Ask questions that help one to understand as fully as possible:
- housing situation
- job and income
- any support systems helping the mom
- any dependents or others that the mom is helping
- is the abortion being coerced
- is there domestic violence
- are there any addictions
- is the dad of the baby involved and willing to help
- what would that help look like
In our area, we have a former abortion manager who left the industry, submitted her life to Christ, and became a social worker. She helps us when we call to assess moms for free. Social workers are trained to determine needs vs. wants. Many churches may well have a social worker in their pews who would be willing to volunteer her time to help assess moms who claim to have many needs.
In addition to trained financial counselors volunteering to assess financially, social workers can be very useful in gathering other information.
We are a people who should give as generously as we are able, not withhold help from those in need when we have the power to help them, and always glorify God in our giving. However, we are to be wise in how the resources are used and that we are careful not to enable sin or codependency on anything but God.
The strategies outlined above are helpful. However, as in all things, allow the Holy Spirit to guide you. I would much rather err and give to those who have tricked me rather than miss giving to those in real need. It is possible a cup of water to a thirsty soul might be just what is needed to turn a heart to the Lord.
“If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. Those from among you Shall build the old waste places; You shall raise up the foundations of many generations; And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In (Isaiah 58:10-12).”